Thursday, July 16, 2015
Don't give me the Runaround
Something wicked this way comes. Its like people just give zero fucks about the woods. Walk your dog and just leave your poop bag in the middle of the trail. Sure why not. Why not? First rule of the woods. Pack it out. That includes your dog's poop. We could also put that under Leave no Trace. Which brings me to something that fills me with more rage than those cute little doggie bags filled with ecoli and god knows what else. The Runaround. Stop it. Right now. What is a runaround? It is NOT a B-line. B-lines are legitimate trail features that allow for a less skilled rider to avoid a technical feature. In a lot of instances the B-line was or is the actual trail and the A-line is either a built up feature or a rock face or something environmental that riders are using as something to roll down or huck off.
The picture above is a classic Runaround. This is a gorgeous little singletrack. Seeing riders blatantly avoiding a few tiny rocks and creating a runaround fills me with rage. Why? Why should I let my otherwise peaceful experience in the woods be interrupted by such negative thoughts? Because I actually care about the trails. We are lucky to have them. And runarounds create damage. You see those roots that riders are avoiding in the last photo? By ripping a runaround on the other side of the tree they are creating erosion. And the erosion will just create more roots. And the trail will start to break down.
So why are people doing this and why is it proliferating on such a scale? Lots of my friends think its Strava. It could be. Certainly in a few of the photos here the runaround creates a "faster" more direct line. Some erroneously call a runaround a "B-line" Nothing pictured here is difficult. My kid could ride most of it. In fact she has. Depending on what direction you were riding it maybe you might have to think about the line or ratchet a bit or maybe carry a little extra momentum into it. Ok you might have to get off and walk. All of the above are actual parts of mountain biking. I walk lots of stuff. Whether its safety or effort or a myriad of reasons. By walking a section or figuring it out you become a better mountain biker. One of the things I LOVE about mountain biking is it actually takes skill. You need to learn how to tackle lots of challenges. So if sin #1 is Strava, sin #2 clearly is laziness.
I am a pretty mellow person. I give people the benefit of the doubt. So ok maybe sin #3 is ignorance. Maybe new trail riders just don't know. Saying people give zero fucks is hostile. I know that. So ok let's assume people do give some fucks about the environment and want to protect aka keep our trails open to riding. What do we all do about it? Here is what I propose. And I give most of the credit to this idea to Thom P, Peter Verdone, Johhny Utah and DD.
• Shut it Down. First and best thing to do is literally shut down the runaround. Every time you see one developing drag some logs and brush across it and leave a not too subtle message that runarounds are not cool
• Runaround Shaming. Let's take this viral. Post photos on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook of blatant runarounds and shame people into not doing it. Ok educate may be a little less hostile a term. But as I sort of inferred earlier runarounds are equally as bad as the dog walkers leaving all those poop bags on our trails. We are supposed to be better than everyone else. As a cyclist we have to. The rules are different. They always have been. And always will be.
• Don't ride them. This is actually a really important part of fixing this problem. Cheater lines are for cheaters. If you or I ride them they just get worn in more. Yes they are sometimes easier. Give me the hard. My life is easy enough. I do not need the easy way out on a trail.